Each global international lottery seems to have made an appearance in the latest lottery news but the Irish National Lottery has had more coverage than most.
The Irish Times reported this week that some €14.7 million ($19 million or £12.4 million) remained unclaimed last year. Under Irish law, winners have only three months to collect their winnings: after that time the money returns to the present lottery administrator, An Post, for marketing purposes.
Over the last 5 years unclaimed prizes have totalled an amazing €90 million: 2% of total ticket sales. Amazingly the largest unclaimed prize was for €3.4 million drawn in June 2001.
Last month the Irish parliament, the Dáil, passed a bill to put the 20-year licence for the National Lottery up for sale.
Any new private sector administrator will pay a sum upfront for the licence and will be expected to return a significant income to the government to be distributed to good causes (as in many other countries). Indeed, the new licence will also change the use of any unclaimed prizes, returning the money for use in good causes rather than for marketing programmes.
Until now ticket sales until now have been restricted but the new measures mean this will no longer be the case, raising more income than before.
The Irish National Lottery started in March 1987 to support initiatives in areas of sport, heritage and culture. From that day the draw administrators have been a government-run body overseeing the running of the state Lotto and the Irish section of the Euromillions prize draw.
At the end of last year the Irish National Lottery had achieved sales of over €12 billion with €6.7 billion paid out as prizes and €4.2 billion given to various good causes.